Your Ticket to PR Career Advancement

Under the leadership of Board Director Chris Lukach APR, PRSA NJ offers local support for members pursuing their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credentialour industry’s national mark of professional distinction. Special thanks to Rita Yelda, one of New Jersey’s most recent APR recipients, who describes how this credential has enhanced her career opportunities.


One Year After the APR

By Rita Yelda, APR

An accreditation in public relations is an opportunity to grow in the profession and provides a pathway to life-long learning. In order to satiate my appetite for knowledge and seek professional development, I stumbled upon the APR process online one day.

Since 2011, I have worked hands-on in community engagement, public affairs, and strategic communications, and I wanted a way to formalize and build on these experiences. I also wanted to improve my job performance as Outreach & Communications Manager for the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, an advocacy organization based in Trenton.

Understanding strategic public relations planning has allowed me to identify and message to key publics, such as legislators, NGOs, and citizens. Without them, the Coalition would not be able to pursue state and federal public policy — and funding — that benefits waterways and landscapes throughout the region.

Ever since I earned my APR in December 2019, it has been a whirlwind! The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed underwent an in-depth process of internal strategic planning to determine a new organizational mission and vision. Thankfully, my APR expertise with structuring goals and objectives, and conducting a SWOT analysis, came in handy.

Additionally, earning the APR gave me the confidence to launch my own public relations firm, Yelda Media & Issue Advocacy LLC.

If I had one piece of advice for those currently pursuing their APR, I would suggest that they take the online study course offered by PRSA. The course allows you to see real-world PR plans and get feedback on your plan, which is helpful to do before the actual panel presentation. The most challenging, and rewarding, part of the APR process was the reading and preparation.

The APR has also paved a path for me to attend West Virginia University’s online M.S. program in Integrated Marketing Communications. The university waives two elective courses in public relations for those with an APR, which is two fewer classes that need to be taken to achieve the degree. My Area of Emphasis is Digital & Social Media, though Public Relations Leadership is an option for those who are interested.

The APR process has taught me lessons that I will use for the rest of my career, and continuing education credits will help to keep me sharp. In this competitive and ever-changing job market, it never hurts to learn a new skill or further master your craft.

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